by Simon Daish
TTC Fakel Gazprom progressed to the semi-finals at the expense of French opposition having eliminated AS-Pontoise Cergy in the previous round but the away trip to Angers Vaillante TT provided a significantly tougher challenge for the four-time champions.
The hosts enjoyed a fantastic start to the evening with Jon Persson and Jens Lundqvist picking up stunning victories over Yan An (9-11, 12-10, 11-7, 13-15, 11-6) and Dimitrij Ovtcharov (11-9, 4-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-7) to gain a commanding 2-0 lead.
Marcos Freitas halved the deficit with his four games success against João Geraldo (11-9, 10-12, 11-6, 12-10) before Yan An and Dimitrij Ovtcharov completed the comeback, defeating Jens Lundqvist (5-11, 11-8, 11-13, 11-5, 11-2) and Jon Persson (11-6, 16-14, 11-4) respectively.
Over in the other semi-final TTSC UMMC produced a fine performance on home soil, defeating reigning champions Borussia Düsseldorf 3-1.
Taking an early lead through Fang Bo, who saw off Anton Källberg (11-5, 11-8, 11-2), UMMC’s advantage was soon doubled with Jonathan Groth claiming a shock win against Timo Boll (12-10, 12-10, 9-11, 12-10).
Düsseldorf did manage to get themselves on the scoreboard thanks to Kristian Karlsson’s four games victory over Alexander Shibaev (11-6, 9-11, 11-9, 11-9) but with Fang Bo getting the better of Timo Boll (11-13, 7-11, 11-4, 11-6, 11-4) the 1st leg went to the Russian side.